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The INTERNET Database of Periodic Tables

There are thousands of periodic tables in web space, but this is the only comprehensive database of periodic tables & periodic system formulations. If you know of an interesting periodic table that is missing, please contact the database curator: Mark R. Leach Ph.D.

Use the drop menus below to search & select from the more than 1100 Period Tables in the database:

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History of the Discovery of the Group 18 (erstwhile Group 0) Elements

John Marks has provided a concise history of the discovery of the Group 18 elements and the element name"Nitron/Radon".

Radioactivity was discovered by Becquerel in 1896 and the Curies noted transferred radioactivity rather like the induction of electric or magnetic charge. Radon was discovered in 1900, by Dorn in Halle; Rutherford discovered thoron in 1899; and Debierne discovered actinon in 1903. The time-line is:

So niton (from Latin nitens = shining) was noticed by the Curies in 1899 as an emanation from radium. That same year Rutherford noted an identical emanation from thorium, and in 1903 Debierne discovered the same emanation from actinium. All three ('radon', 'thoron' and 'actinon') were identified as an element by Ramsay in 1904 and characterized by him in 1909.

Ramsay named the element niton after its most prominent property viz. that it glowed in the dark.

With the introduction of Soddy's isotopes, it became clear that: thoron was Nt-220, radon was Nt-222 & actinon was Nt-219.

There are natural traces of other isotopes (e.g. Nt-217, Nt-218) from beta disintegration of astatine. So "radon" was just one isotope of niton.

The foregoing history of niton is uncontroversial and the name niton, Nt, for Z = 86 dates at least from Professor Young´s textbook of stoichiometry in 1908.

In 1912, the name 'niton' was adopted by the International Commission for Atomic weights. Rydberg's PT of 1913 has Nt as the last inert gas, as does Irving Langmuir's PT of 1919, Niels Bohr's PT of 1922, GN Lewis's PT of 1923 and even the CRC's Handbook of Chemistry and Physics in 1924.

John Marks concludes:

"Niton, Nt, for Z = 86, was thus established by its discoverers and accepted by the chemistry (and physics) establishment. Radon, Rn, is an error perpetuated by IUPAC [amongst its many sins].

"Radon is an isotope. We do not refer to hydrogen as 'protium', so why are we referring to niton as 'radon'?"

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What is the Periodic Table Showing? Periodicity

© Mark R. Leach Ph.D. 1999 –

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